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Uncertainty Traps

Author

Listed:
  • Mathieu Taschereau-Dumouchel

    (University of Pennsylvania - Wharton School)

  • Edouard Schaal

    (New York University)

  • Pablo Fajgelbaum

    (UCLA)

Abstract

We develop a quantitative theory of endogenous uncertainty and business cycles. In the model, higher uncertainty about fundamentals discourages investment but agents can learn from the actions of others. Therefore, in times of low activity information flows slowly and uncertainty stays high, further discouraging investment. This creates room for uncertainty traps -- self-reinforcing episodes of high uncertainty and low activity. We characterize conditions that give rise to uncertainty traps. Negative shocks to average productivity or beliefs may have permanent effects on the level of activity through the persistence of uncertainty. We also characterize optimal policy interventions. The socially efficient allocation can be implemented with aggregate-beliefs dependent subsidies, but under certain conditions it necessarily features uncertainty traps. We embed these forces into a standard quantitative model of the business cycle to evaluate the impact of uncertainty traps.

Suggested Citation

  • Mathieu Taschereau-Dumouchel & Edouard Schaal & Pablo Fajgelbaum, 2013. "Uncertainty Traps," 2013 Meeting Papers 677, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed013:677
    as

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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General

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